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Jared Goff: McVay pushing Rams even further in 2018

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Sean McVay captured NFL Coach of the Year honors while leading one of the most dramatic franchise renaissances in NFL history, wrestling control of the NFC West away from Seattle in his debut season with the Rams.

What does the league's latest offensive mastermind have in store for an encore?

Left unsatisfied with his team's playoff loss to the Falcons, McVay is determined to push a star-studded roster to new heights in 2018.

"First of all, he's super smart," quarterback Jared Goff told NFL Network analyst Willie McGinest on Wednesday's edition of NFL Total Access. "He knows what he's doing. At the same time, though, I think he's got absolutely no ego and is just trying to help us win.

"Obviously he's done a tremendous job so far, and so far this offseason you've seen his want to push it even further. And we're right there with him. It's an exciting time."

It's no secret that McVay is exceptionally bright. When Dan Orlovsky arrived at Rams training camp last summer, the former Lions backup quarterback recently relayed on Good Morning Football, he turned to Goff and said, "Bud, you have no idea how lucky you are. This guy's brilliant."

The key that unlocks the Holy Grail of championship-level football is a quarterback possessed of coach-like powers of perception at the line of scrimmage. Going back nearly a full century to the golden days of Notre Dame's fabled Four Horsemen backfield, legendary coach Knute Rockne had established the platonic ideal of offense with quarterback Joe Stuhldreher functioning as the head coach's "alter ego" out on the gridiron.

The Rams took that concept to new heights last season, rushing Goff to the line of scrimmage with enough time for McVay to survey the defensive alignment and provide his quarterback with an audible before the headset shuts off with 15 seconds remaining on the play clock.

To be clear, it's not the methodology that is revolutionary. Play-callers have been whispering in their quarterback's ears ever since the prototype radio receiver installed in former Browns quarterback George Ratterman's helmet went haywire in 1956, picking up outside interference from a local taxi company fielding cab calls.

Goff's field-tilting advantage lies in the beautiful mind guiding him at the line of the scrimmage. Similar to former Bengals mad scientist Sam Wyche's no-huddle attack in the 1980s, McVay has done deep studies on substitution patterns, seeking the exact moment on the play clock when defenses adjust to his personnel.

When the Around The NFL Podcast sat down with Les Snead in late March, the Rams general manager provided a telling response to the question of McVay's influence on Goff's pre-snap acumen.

"Like anything there's 32 different head coaches, 32 different offensive coordinators," Snead explained, "and how they utilize their time with the QB before the snap is probably where the differences occur, where edges are gained or not. And really, really good coaches take advantage of that."

Edge is the key word here. It's no coincidence that legendary coaches Bill Walsh and Don Shula each penned memoirs with edge in the title. The most advanced NFL minds have always pushed the boundaries in search of their fair advantage.

Now that the word is out on McVay's machinations, defensive coaches are sure to strike back with their own tricks. Might they align in a vague Cover 2 shell, for example, only to change the look once the play clock strikes 15 seconds?

As former Cardinals coach Bruce Arians has pointed out, however, that approach has its limits.

"When they just go up there and then don't snap it right away, you say, well, we'll hold our disguise," Arians explained last November, via Philly.com. "And then they snap it [quickly], and you'd better be able to play defense out of your disguise. I think it's really smart coaching."

While defenses search in vain for counter-strategies, McVay is back in the lab concocting innovations to push his team toward the promised land in his second season.

"[McVay] is like Greg Maddux," Orlovsky attested, "where he doesn't necessarily overpower you, but you have no idea what's coming and he'll make you look silly."

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